The Pitt Rivers Museum cares for one of the world’s great collections of anthropology and world archaeology. Coming from all corners of the globe, and all periods in human history, the collection not only includes great cultural treasures, but also tens of thousands of everyday objects which illustrate the diversity of cultural solutions to the same basic problems that we all face as humans beings. This aspect is highlighted by the museum’s unique displays, which group artefacts primarily by type or function, rather than the particular culture or region from which the artefacts come. The artefact collection is complemented by an equally large and important collection of fieldwork and other photographs, along with audio recordings and manuscripts.
Today the museum welcomes over half a million visitors a year, and its innovative outreach programmes – which challenge the messages intrinsic to the museum’s 19th-century origins and encourage new transformative interpretations – are attracting increasingly diverse audiences. The Pitt Rivers aims to be a pioneering institution which challenges and crosses boundaries; to influence the lives of local, national and international audiences; and to be a place of welcome, where difficult conversations can take place alongside enjoyment in discovery.
The museum was selected as one of the five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2019.